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UN Calls for South Sudan Food Funding

FILE: Nyayiar Kuol holds her severely malnourished 1-year-old daughter, Chuoder Wal, in a hospital run by Medicines Sans Frontieres in Old Fangak in Jonglei state, South Sudan, Dec. 28, 2021.

The UN's World Food Programme (WFP) on Tuesday appealed for $426 million to stave off famine in South Sudan, where millions face hunger as a result of conflict and floods.

UN World Food Program South Sudan Officer Adeyinka Badejo told reporters "We are already in a crisis, but we need to restore food assistance... to prevent people from falling into starvation and famine. To do so, we urgently require $426 million for the next six months."

"South Sudan is facing its hungriest year since independence," Badejo warned from the capital Juba.

The reasons, she said, were accumulative -- "continuing sub-national conflict, climate crisis of three consecutive years of floods, and severe economic shocks exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, and now the war in Ukraine."

The youngest country in the world, South Sudan has experienced chronic instability since becoming independent from Sudan in 2011.

South Sudan, and other nations in northeast Africa, are not only dealing with yet another year of drought, but also, soaring food prices due to supply problems made worse by the Russian attack on Ukraine.

The WFP says hunger and malnutrition levels are at a record level, saying severe food insecurity is hitting 8.3 million people.

The UN agency says immediate food assistance is needed to prevent what it terms a humanitarian catastrophe in South Sudan.

In 2017, famine was officially declared in two South Sudan counties.